Purple belt André Almeida definitely has some serious Jiu-Jitsu genes in his body. The younger brother of black belts Ricardo and Flavio Almeida took a while to start in the gentle art, but when he did he knew that was what he wanted for his life.
At 24 years old and training since he was 13 under Jefferson Moura at Gracie Barra headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro, André is already making some big waves in the competition circuit.
After competing at the 2016 Pan, he decided to stay in the USA to have an intense training camp alongside his brothers for the 2016 Worlds.
We talked with André about his start in Jiu-Jitsu and his plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say.
GRACIEMAG.COM: Your brothers are well known within the Jiu-Jitsu community, but you are still a new face. What can you tell us about yourself and your beginning in the gentle art?
André Almeida: I have 24 years old and have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu since I was 13 years old. My mother never really wanted me to start Jiu-Jitsu and like 90% of the kids in Brazil I always were really into soccer but I had always a big influence of my older brothers (Ricardo and Flavio Almeida) that always used to take me to their tournaments and to their trainings in Gracie Barra. One day I was jumped by a bunch of older kids because of a girl back in Brazil and my older brothers (both already living in United States) called their friends and training partners at Gracie Barra to help me out. After that I knew that I wanted to join that team, so I started training Jiu-Jitsu. I’m a purple belt and I currently train at the first Gracie Barra, our headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, under the guidance of Professor Jefferson Moura. I came to the United States to fight on IBJJF PanAms and decided to stay until IBJJF Worlds doing a camp with my brother Flavio Almeida witch is helping me everyday to get my game sharp for a good result at World’s.
GRACIEMAG.COM: What role your brothers Ricardo and Flavio played in your development in Jiu-Jitsu?
André Almeida: Today I’m totally devoted to the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and that has happened, in big part, because of my older brother’s influence. A couple of years ago I was finishing Law School and working on one of the biggest Law Firms in Brazil, back then I had no time to do almost anything but I used to escape on the middle of the work shift (sometimes at noon sometimes at 6 pm) to train with a couple of friends, after training I would put the suit back on and head back to the office. A couple of times I heard people asking how could I have sweat so much, and I would always put the blame on the hot humid Brazilian whether. My older brothers always played an important roll in my life as been a big inspiration of mine, I believe that their influence has made me grow so much faster than the average kids. I have learned a lot from their actions in simple things like work ethic, never giving up, always believing in yourself. I had the opportunity of embracing – since a young age – the world of my brothers and to watch them thriving in their tournaments. I can easily say that if I’m passioned about testing myself today is because of their influence and good exemple. Fighting alongside my brothers has always been a dream of mine and this year we were able fulfill this dream when we all won our categories Gi and No-Gi competing together at the New York Spring International Open Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF. Following the steps of my brothers I’m glad to defend Gracie Barra and to represent the next generation of Almeida’s.
GRACIEMAG.COM: What do you see for your future in the gentle art?
André Almeida: I have been training Jiu-Jitsu for over 10 years now and I’m 100% focussed in competition and preparing for IBJJF World’s this year. I’m dedicating myself entirely to competition and I plan to one day be a Black Belt World Champion. For this year I have won the gold medal at the Atlanta Open, New York Spring Open, New York Spring Open No-Gi, Arizona Open, NABJJF Silver State Open and NABJJF Silver State Open No-Gi; have won second place at the San Jose Open No-Gi; and have won 3rd place at the Pan Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF, Las Vegas Open, San Jose Open. I’m not thinking about MMA at the moment but I have always liked and followed the sport. I always admired my older brother Ricardo Almeida for his accomplishments on the sport as athlete and now as a one of the greatest MMA coaches and whenever I get the chance I take the time to visit him on New Jersey and train with his team.